Opinion: Why getting older is no excuse for sheer rudeness
PUBLISHED: 06:46 23 November 2017
Opinion: Why are older people so rude these days? asks Rachel Moore.
A striking change I’ve noticed as I’ve reached my fifties is how rude, inconsiderate, selfish and grumpy older people can be.
When it comes to manners, young people show up older people for their crass lack of good consideration and common courtesy.
It’s as if bad manners comes as an inevitable symptom of the ageing process.
It’s more than comedy curmudgeonly grumbling; it’s behaviour verging on the obnoxious, with a total disregard for anyone else.
I had experience of this in a restaurant, where a table of people in their fifties and sixties were causing an almighty din, seemingly oblivious they were in a shared space, drowning out any possible conversation between the couples on tables around them.
When none of the four took the hint to pipe down, one of the couples asked them if they could converse a little quieter so others could enjoy their meals with their own conversation.
It was a polite request. It’s easy to lose a grip on how loud we can be and a quiet nudge should be all it takes to fall back into the boundaries of universal good manners.
But the lone woman in the quartet took offence, threw back a series of loud expletives at the couple. This was not going to end well.
A row broke out, other diners got involved and, as we tried to focus on our meal, safe in a window seat, it all kicked off. A couple of the poor staff tried to take control while the others scurried around apologising to other diners.
The irony was that the objectors turned it a team sport – everyone has to take a side – and ended up causing more disruption than the original offenders, with men from different tables yelling over the restaurant, marching to the table pursued by their anxious partners, who tried to rein them back from escalating aggression.
It was an undignified spectacle by people old enough to know better and, even if their good manners had temporarily slipped, should have had the self-control to diffuse the situation.
But from selfish fools not considering that a restaurant is a collective and communal space and projecting their conversations for all to hear, they set off an eruption of boorish barracking that showed no thoughts for the other diners in that full restaurant, or the staff for that matter.
They all thought they had the right to do exactly what they pleased and stuff everyone else.
At a recent event, the racket of chitchat around the audience tables drowned out the presenter announcing prizewinners, but instead of quietening as the message went round, it crescendoed.
It was rude, ignorant and inconsiderate.
In the quiet carriage of a train, a man talked loudly to a friend on a phone, every other word an expletive, unconcerned he was the only person talking in a quiet carriage.
This kind behaviour is far more prevalent with the over-60s than the under-30s.
My own generation, brought up to be good-mannered, has become selfish and self-absorbed.
In the supermarkets, it’s older people who barge their way past, clipping shins with trolleys and never say sorry.
This week, a gig at the UEA LCR, my friend and I were surrounded by excited, probably inebriated, young people who were courtesy itself to a pair of menopausal quinquagenarians invading their space.
They were delightfully polite. They apologised if their dancing encroached on our tiny parcel of floor, smiled, chatted and were charm itself. Not a glare, grump or gripe in sight, so unlike the old enough to know betters.
According to a study, Brits are lacking in good manners because our busy lives leaves little time for courtesy, which, of course, is total codswallop.
If 60 per cent of Brits really do forget to greet someone with a hello and three in ten admit they rarely say thank you when they should, 24 per cent never saying please, we’ve lost the grip.
Eighty five per cent of Brits say they felt hurt and disrespected by frequent failures of courtesy, the Mentos research reported.
There’s a simple fix for the three in ten Brits who wish they had better manners – just do it. It’s hardly taxing.
Being busy can never an excuse for selfishness and a lack of consideration for other people. No is getting older.